Victoria Councillor Ben Isitt is not as naive as he would have us believe. He is a left-wing populist (yes, they are many) whose playbook is borrowed straight from The Donald’s. After putting forward an ill-advised motion (the Mayor was canny enough to distance herself from it) suggesting that Victoria seek funding from the Department of National Defence for policing of “military events” such as Remembrance Day, Isitt is taking heat.
Rule number 1 in the Trump manual for populist politicians: Blame the media for making you look like a moron.
Isitt didn’t actually use the “fake news” epithet, instead resorting to the leftish version, citing “corporate media.”
Even better, the statement he posted online was illustrated with an Antifa (anti-fascist) poster showing one angry looking armed woman kicking a Nazi brownshirt in the midriff and the headline “Kick their Axis” wherein the “x” is a swastika.
The irony was jaw-dropping as we remember our fathers’ sacrifices 75 years ago.
In his statement, Isitt earnestly leads with the fact that Victoria city council unanimously “endorsed” $90 million in “new funding” for the regional Housing First Program and reporters didn’t cover it.
Wow. Big news, huh?
But wait, what does he mean by “endorsed”?
Oh, you mean Victoria isn’t going to spend $90 million on housing? But instead, is “endorsing” the spending by other governments of taxpayer money.
By what conceivable measure could even a deluded academic think that was news? Right up there with “Pope prays for peace” or “Worthy Canadian initiative.”
He then manages to conflate the media coverage of his major foot-in-mouth moment with 1930s Germany, when economic “elites” resorted to distraction to “maintain their powers and privileges.” Oy!
He also dredges up a 1980s era usage from American local television news directors that held “if it bleeds it leads” a TV news program, especially if there are moving pictures of the event.
He really got my dander up by calling this “an old, unfortunate mantra in the journalism profession.”
My apologies to my TV cousins, but nobody I knew in my 40 years in “corporate” newspaper work ever seriously used that line. On the other hand, if a managing editor was told that a local councillor, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, was suggesting that the Canadian Armed forces had more than enough money to provide policing for Remembrance Day ceremonies, which the councillor also suggested were “military events,” well, that editor would shout “sold!” for Page One. With a big grin on his face. No blood, just hilarity.
Why do I think Isitt is practising populist politics? Because in Victoria’s council system, where all councillors are elected “at-large,” he who can mobilize the largest slice of the minority of eligible voters who vote, gets elected.
Isitt received some 14,200 votes in an election where 29,700, or about 43.5 per cent of eligible voters, turned out.
Victoria has a significantly higher proportion of leftish voters than most medium-sized Canadian towns I am familiar with and they turn out to vote.
Keeping your name out there and riding the white horse of “anti-capitalism” and “anti-fascism,” no matter who you smear, will probably mean success, even against the dark forces of the corporate media!
Alan Allnutt is a former editor and publisher of The Montreal Gazette and Times Colonist..